‘I wouldn’t sit down or meet with the Pope’: Limerick abuse survivor to join protests

Jess Casey

Reporter:

Jess Casey

On the right is John Boland, spokesperson of the Creagh Lane group, with Tom Hogan and Christy Rainbow Picture: Adrian Butler

On the right is John Boland, spokesperson of the Creagh Lane group, with Tom Hogan and Christy Rainbow Picture: Adrian Butler

A SURVIVOR of sexual abuse at a Limerick city school plans to attend protests this weekend that will coincide with Pope Francis’ visit to Ireland. 

John Boland, a former student at Creagh Lane National School, hopes to travel to take part in marches and vigils to be held in solidarity with victims of clerical abuse while the Pope attends the World Meeting of Families in Dublin. 

Thousands are expected to attend the ‘Stand4Truth’ march which is set to take place this Sunday from the Garden of Remembrance at Parnell Square in Dublin. 

According to organiser Colm O’Gorman of Amnesty International, the event is for “everyone who wishes to stand in solidarity with those harmed by the actions of the institutional Roman Catholic Church.” 

Mr Boland, a spokesperson for the Creagh Lane group, is one of 19 former students who were sexually abused as children by their teacher, who was a Christian Brother at the time.

Mr Boland said much of the conversation regarding the visit of Pope Francis has been focused on whether he would meet survivors of clerical abuse or not.  

“In my opinion, the survivors meeting the Pope would only be a PR exercise,” Mr Boland said. 

“I wouldn’t sit down or meet with the Pope unless there was something solid to be discussed with him, not just for a photo-shoot.” 

“It appears to me that with the way the tone of the conversation is going on nationally, it seems that the Vatican are embarrassed so they think they can spend five minutes with victims on their way somewhere else. I don’t believe that’s good enough.”  

“That is my opinion. Maybe other survivors would agree with meeting with the Pope, and that’s completely up to them but it wouldn’t be my cup of tea.” 

Others in the Creagh Lane group will also be attending the protests but it is up to each individual member if they want to attend or not, Mr Boland said. “But I most certainly will be.”

Meanwhile, the Creagh Lane group, and other abuse survivors, have written to Minister for Children Katherine Zappone to express their “deep hurt” that she voted against a Dáil motion that would help them access financial compensation from the State.